A masterpiece of civil engineering, Napoli Afragola is a new rail interchange station in Southern Italy designed to connect the south end of the country to the north, and to the rest of Europe. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the station utilises innovative and modern design to create a unique transport hub for tourists and residents alike.
The project was awarded t Zaha Hadid in 2003, with the plan proposed that same year. the station was originally planned to be opened in 2009, however several delays and complications saw it opened in 2017 instead.
Located 12km north of Naples, Napoli Afragola interchange was designed as an “urbanised public bridge”, according to the architects, that connects communities on both sides of the rail and creates a simple route for passengers to the rail services. The large public walkway was constructed across the eight rail tracks, allowing for it to become the station’s main concourse, offering a place for passengers to get direct access to all platforms from one key location.
The elevated concourse is designed as am extruding trapezoid, jutting out along the 450-metre curved bridge. Oriented at an angle from the tracks, the design was created to optimise the environmental performance of the concourse. Solar panels coat the roof combined with natural light and ventilation and ground cooling and heating systems, optimise the station’s sustainability and energy usage.
Each end of the station features sizeable entrances that include welcome centres and offer retail, eateries and public amenities. A central atrium offers cafes and restaurants and public space for passengers to relax and pass through.
The station is constructed from a reinforced concrete base that supports the elevated concourse, is constructed from 200 unique steel ribs, clad in Corian. A glazed roof tops the structure. The concrete is composed to offer optimum performance, with the curved structural elements constructed from prefabricated steel units with double curves created from CNC milled polystyrene models.
The four-storey station was incorporated into the adjacent business park and offers generous areas for passengers to wait and also includes a bus station and 1400 carparking spaces. The station is coated by large, waving glass panels that evoke the image of a moving train.
The design focused around capturing the surrounding landscape, with the concourse positioned to offer spectacular views of the nearby Mount Vesuvius. This factor proved to be complicated to the design and construction of the interchange, as it was required to comply with restrictive seismic measures, such as ensuring each building is divided into zones of a maximum 50 metres in length, allowing for the sections to move individually in order to cope in the event of a volcanic emergency.
Zaha Hadid paid particular attention to the environmental design of the station, which aimed to minimise energy output. The glazed roof features internal shading and acoustic baffles, which limit direct sunlight on the concourse, enabling natural ventilation to be used throughout most of the year.
20,000 square metres of matte cladding was use, the largest quantity of this material be used on a single building project in Italy. 330-700 workers were onsite daily throughout the construction process.
In addition to the services for Italy that connect Bari and Reggio Calabria with north Italy and Europe, it is planned that by 2022 the second phase of the project will service the entire region of Campania, integrating the high-speed rail network expansion with the Napoli Cancello line and the Circumvesuviana commuter extension.
The new interchange connects over 15 million residents throughout Campania, Puglia, Molise, Calabria and Sicily with a rail network that connects to the north of Italy and Europe. The line also opens up further trade goods exchanges and allows for visits from Europe and north Italy to access key southern provinces.
With train travel demand increasing by 50 percent over the past decade, the Napoli Afragola station will open up more travel possibilities and ensures the entire key regions of Italy are fully integrated both nationally and across the continent.
As all lines become opened, it is expected that an average of 32,700 passengers will use the new station daily, with 84 express trains being used across the lines. 28 high-speed trains with stop at Napoli Afragola daily, offering express services in each direction every 30-40 minutes. 300 regional and local services will stop at the interchange. The number of services across the lines will create a new rail hub that will connect each end of Italy with each other and with the rest of the continent.
The interchange is the first phase of a much larger development scheme that plans to be completed in 2022.